Is Amaranth Nature’s Perfect Food?
Amaranth is a highly productive grain which was revered for centuries by ancient cultures, and in more recent times, its reputation has since spread across the planet. Amaranth is one such food cultivated by nature to be highly nutritious, versatile, and chocked full of health benefits for both physical and mental well being.
Amaranth is one of the most nutritious, easy-to-grow and well-adapted, eatable grain foods on the planet. It also is visually spectacular looking. Amaranth grows to head-high or taller in an array of gorgeous colors and shapes, and it can provide year-round sustenance.
Amaranth is a nature made wonder food, something you should be adding to your diet today.
What Is Amaranth?
Amaranth, or amaranthus, refers to over 60 species of tall, green plants that sport vibrant purple, red, or gold flowers. Its name comes from the Greek ‘amarantos’ which means ‘unfading’ or ‘one that does not fade.’
Cultivated by the Aztecs over 8,000 years ago, it is still a native crop in Peru. The history of amaranth can be traced to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.
This plant certainly lives up to its name for the flowers are as vibrant and beautiful as ever, even after they have been harvested and dried. Often found as a beautiful member of lovely gardens, amaranth has been around for centuries. It was a staple for the Aztec Empire and was used for both food and ceremonial reasons.
The leaves are high in protein, as well as beta carotene, iron, calcium and fiber. All this nutrition and flavor comes from a plant that requires very little water, and can be grown in almost any type of soil.
While it is commonly thought of as a cereal grain, amaranth is not exactly a “true” whole grain. However, thanks to its glowing nutrient profile, it is often lumped together with other cereals due to its versatility.
Amaranth Health Benefits
It’s Full of Vitamins and Minerals: There is a long and winding list of health benefits found in amaranth that do wonders for the body. Amaranth contains over three times the average amount of calcium than most plant foods and is also a great source of potassium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.
These nutrients are important for regulating your appetite, building strong bones, cleansing, and oxygenating the blood, and a host of other housekeeping functions for bodily systems. This is also the only grain that has been shown to contain vitamin C, which is well known for boosting the immune system and aiding in the fight against disease and illnesses.
It’s An Excellent Source of Protein: Amaranth is also an excellent source of protein. It contains much more protein than most other grains and contains lysine, which is an amino acid often missing from whole grains. When added to a diet, amaranth offers boosted energy levels and promotes bowel regularity and a healthy metabolism.
It also contains lunasin, a peptide that was previously identified in soybeans and was thought to help prevent cancer as well as reduce inflammation that is present with certain chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
It Promotes Heart Health: Studies have shown that amaranth is a whole grain that can potentially lower cholesterol effective. Through various studies conducted over the last decade, findings have shown that, when fed to chickens, the amount of bad cholesterol in the body was lowered significantly.
This study was duplicated in Canada, the U.S., and Russia, and each study offered similar results. While promising, whether or not amaranth will have the same effect on human’s remains to be seen. However, it can’t hurt to add this to your daily heart-healthy regimen.
It’s Gluten-Free: Today, gluten-free diets are extremely popular. People with Celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet, but those without Celiac disease have also found amaranth to be a healthy option in their lives.
Many find that cutting out gluten makes them feel better, lighter, and more alert. Luckily, adding amaranth to your gluten-free diet is easy, and it can be used as a great substitute for other grains used in dough to increase elasticity and allow for leavening.
Make Amaranth A Part Of Your Healthy Lifestyle
For centuries, amaranth has been used by humans for a number of different reasons. In addition to the listed health benefits, just about every part of the plant can be used for something.
The seeds are an excellent source of protein and is easy to cook, and the seed flour is ideal for healthy baked goods.
The leaves, roots, and stems are also consumed as leafy veggies in many parts of the world and used for cooking and various dishes. They can be steamed, mashed, or simply seasoned and added to a favorite dish.
In addition to being used as food, the amaranth plant is also used for aesthetic reasons. The gorgeous flowers of this plant have been widely used for dyes—specifically as a source of a deep red dye that comes from the flowers.
Amaranth is also used for ornamental reasons in gardens or in homes and is grown for both its beauty and its many uses.
A bowl of warm amaranth cereal makes a tasty alternative to oatmeal.
You can cook amaranth in chicken or vegetable stock instead of water for a savory side dish or stir-fry base.
It’s great at absorbing the flavors of other ingredients.
Amaranth seeds can be popped like popcorn on your stove top, resulting in small, crunchy puffs that make a terrific addition to trail mix. Toss with nuts and dried fruit for a multi-textured treat, or sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese and rosemary for a healthy, and savory, amaranth snack.